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Author Interview Series: Behind The Scenes with Elaine Wolf

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Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

With me today is Elaine Wolf. Known as the anti-bullying novelist, her books Camp and Danny’s Mom dig deep into the issues kids face today and why speaking up is important.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I always dreamed of being a writer, but work and family responsibilities got in the way.

When I was 45, my husband noticed an announcement about a writers’ workshop at the local library, and he encouraged me to enroll. So I started racing out of work early once a week to attend that workshop. And I loved it.

My husband knew of my dream; he had heard me speak about the first story I ever wrote, way back when I was in second grade. The other kids wrote a paragraph or two. I wrote ten pages about a dog named Magic. The teacher had me read my story to the class, and I loved being acknowledged for having written something worth sharing.

Fast forward a few decades. As a public school district program director, I found lots of excuses to write memos, which teachers said they actually enjoyed reading. Yes, I really loved writing –– and my big dream was to write a novel, to attract the attention of a reputable literary agent, and to get my book published.

With my husband’s support, I quit my job when I was not quite fifty to become a full-time writer. I enrolled in writing classes and workshops, and I wrote every day. I started with short stories and then went on to write the manuscript that became Danny’s Mom.

When a New York literary agent signed me on, I wrote another manuscript, which evolved into the novel Camp. And now I’m known as “the anti-bullying novelist,” with books that show what really can happen behind the closed gates and doors of our camps and schools.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I wish I could do it all over again! I would start my “writing life” long before turning 50. I would figure out how to dedicate time to write even while working a full-time job…or figure out how to get by with a part-time job so I could have time to write. That said, I’m delighted to have the opportunity now to focus on writing, and I feel blessed that, at this stage of life, my work as “the anti-bullying novelist” is making a difference.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

My advice is to never give up. I know that sounds hokey, but I really believe it.

Never give up on a manuscript that you know is good –– even when agents and publishers say NO. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on Danny’s Mom and Camp. I knew they were good stories, so I revised and revised and revised. And when my agent said that editors loved the manuscripts –– the writing and the characters –– but that bullying was too small a story, I put my novels on the back burner, but I never took them off the stove. I revised yet again and found different ways into the stories. I never gave up. And when bullying finally made it to our national radar screen, my agent tried again, and both books sold quickly.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

When people ask me which of my two novels I like better, which is more special to me, I sort of feel like a mother being asked which of her children is particularly special to her. Both Camp and Danny’s Mom are personal works: I wrote Camp to honor the memory of my mother, whose story as a survivor and an immigrant I can only imagine; I wrote Danny’s Mom to honor colleagues with whom I worked, teachers who went above and beyond for their students –– and for students who desperately need adult advocates and yet often have to face the perils of high school unprotected and alone. So, both Camp and Danny’s Mom are really special to me.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

I tend to be the champion of the underdogs, which is probably why Charlie is my favorite character in Camp and Liz Grant is my favorite character in Danny’s Mom.

Charlie is the protagonist’s kid brother in Camp. He’s on the autism spectrum (although in the early 1960s, when the novel takes place, he is labeled “handicapped”). Charlie’s mother is unduly harsh with him, and the only one who seems to understand him is his older sister, Amy, the protagonist. Charlie is petrified of dogs –– and, of course, a family with a large dog lives down the block. I grew to love Charlie during the two years in which I wrote Camp, and I sobbed (really, I did) as I wrote an important scene concerning Charlie toward the end of the novel. When you read Camp, you’ll know exactly when I cried.

Liz Grant, my favorite character in Danny’s Mom, is a troubled high school sophomore who suffers with anorexia. She’s an easy target at Meadow Brook High School, where mean girls practice bullying as if it’s a sport. Liz desperately needs adult support, yet her mother is convinced that the bullies will go away if Liz simply ignores them. The protagonist, Beth, a guidance counselor, tries to help Liz, but Beth is thwarted by school administrators who cling to don’t-rock-the-boat policies.

 

7. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

Currently, I’m working on a novel that’s much lighter than Camp and Danny’s Mom. It takes place in another dimension, and it’s kind of a fairy tale for adults. And, yes, there’s bullying in that other place, too –– because bullying seems to grow organically in everything I write.

I’m also working (with a film agent) on movie rights for Camp and Danny’s Mom…so stay tuned.

 

8. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I’m traditionally published. The truth is, I never considered self-publishing ¬¬–– although I have friends who have had positive self-publishing experiences. After I wrote (and revised and revised and revised) the manuscript that became Danny’s Mom, I researched literary agents and started the querying process. I was prepared to face rejections, and they came. But then a top New York agent signed me on. And the rest, as they say, is history.

My advice to other writers working toward being traditionally published is to never give up. Keep querying, and if you’re lucky enough to get feedback from agents who say “no thanks,” consider their comments, incorporate any suggestions that make sense to you, and rewrite and revise.

In order to be traditionally published, you need talent, perseverance, and timing. The bullying theme in Camp and Danny’s Mom was considered “too small” for traditional publishers when my agent first submitted the manuscripts. But when bullying became part of our national dialogue, both books sold.

And, finally, keep writing. Even if you don’t get an agent, keep writing. Even if you have an agent but your work doesn’t sell, keep writing. A writer is someone who writes. Being published is certainly great, but the act of writing is what’s important: it will keep you growing –– as a writer and as a person.

 

Author Bio: Known as “the anti-bullying novelist,” I write about what really goes on behind the closed gates and doors of our camps and schools. The issues I explore in my novels are those I am passionate about and know well.
I was a camper and camp counselor for many summers. When I entered “the real world,” I taught in public schools in California and New York. In my most recent teaching position, I served as a middle school and high school reading/language arts specialist, and then I became the district language arts chairperson. In that position, I designed and supervised reading/writing programs for students at all grade levels, facilitated reading groups and writers’ workshops, and selected books for classroom libraries as well as for ancillary and summer reading lists.
One of my greatest joys was getting wonderful books into the hands of students, teachers, and parents. In the time before Kindles, iPads, and Nooks, I spent countless hours stocking shelves with “good reads.” And I dreamed of seeing my books on those shelves. Now I’m thrilled that Camp and Danny’s Mom are there.
Although critics call my novels “mesmerizing” and “must-reads,” what pleases me more than great reviews is the fact that Camp and Danny’s Mom have given me a literal bully pulpit –– a platform from which to carry on the anti-bullying conversation so that, in concert with professionals, we will make our camps and schools kinder, more embracing communities for everyone. I’m committed to keeping this conversation going until the bullying epidemic ends.
My husband and I raised our children on Long Island, where in addition to teaching I was a co-facilitator of a writers’ workshop. Now we live in Northampton, Massachusetts, a community brimming with readers, writers, artists, and musicians. Shortly after moving here, I won a prize for short fiction (the perfect welcome for me). And both of my novels, Camp and Danny’s Mom, will be released in paperback in June 2015. Next up is a move to the west coast. California, here I come!

Where to find Elaine:        Website       Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads

 

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Rachel Schieffelbein

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Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today is Rachel Schieffelbein, who writes YA novels. Whether you’re into zombies or modern-day retellings of fairy tales (which I absolutely love!), Rachel is sure to take you an a thrilling adventure.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

When I first started I wanted to write picture books, but I wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t until much later that I decided to try my hand at YA, and I’m thankful I did. That’s where I found my voice. I also started blogging a few years ago and met a lot of wonderful writers, including my critique partners, and without them I would probably still be writing in circles. Writing, but not improving. I owe a lot to them.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Maybe be more patient, which is something I still struggle with to be honest. In the past I’ve sent queries when I wasn’t ready. It’s a hard mistake, but I learned from it.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

As everyone says, “Write, write, write. Read, read, read.” But also, connect. Get online, meet other writers, read writers’ blogs, agents’ blogs, book reviewers’ blogs. There’s so much to learn that way.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

RUN FOR THE ROSES is set within the world of Arabian horse showing, something I did for many years before I had kids, and have started to do again. It’s a unique setting, it really is like its own little culture in some ways. And I really loved being able to share that world with my readers, and to (hopefully) show the bond between a rider and her horse.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

One of my favorites characters to write was Anya, from DON’T FALL. It’s a contemporary Rapunzel retelling, and she was my Rapunzel. She’s sweet, optimistic, and enthusiastic. It was her enthusiasm that made her so fun to write, to get into her head and just enjoy the world and all it has to offer.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

I’m working on a YA contemporary about a teenage girl who has a pregnancy complication that leads to her moving away from home, and her boyfriend. She goes to stay with her aunt and uncle, so she can be at a hospital where she’ll receive better care. She’s dealing with the pregnancy, her cousin and her snotty friends, and a growing doubt about whether or not to give up her baby.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I have two YA novellas and one novel published by Swoon Romance, and a YA zombie novel that I self pubbed. I’ve enjoyed both experiences. It was great having a team behind me for the YA contemporaries, I love my editor at Swoon, Mandy Schoen. But the freedom that comes with self-publishing can be great as well. For example, since I wrote the zombie book for my husband, I was able to release it on his birthday, which was fun.
Whether you plan to self pub, or seek traditional publishing, the best advice I can give you is to put your best foot forward. Make sure you’ve written the best story you can, get it critiqued by people you trust, revise, revise, revise. The more work you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

 

Author Bio:

Rachel Schieffelbein grew up in a tiny town in Southeast Minnesota reading books, riding horses, and participating in speech and theater. She is now married with four kids and enjoys reading books, riding horses, and coaching speech and theater. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

She enjoys writing characters she can relate to, ones she would want to hang out with, or fall in love with. She hopes her readers will love them, too.

She is the author of SECONDARY CHARACTERS, RUN FOR THE ROSES, DON’T FALL, and FLESH EATING ZOMBIES AND EVIL EX-GIRLFRIENDS. She also writes New Adult under the pen name Georgia St. Mane.

Where to find Rachel:    Facebook     Blog     Twitter

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Dianne K. Salerni

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Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today is Dianne K. Salerni. She writes MG and YA Fantasy and her latest novel, The Inquisitor’s Mark, comes out on January 27.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

First of all, thank you for having me here on your blog! I’ve been writing all my life, but I was always very shy about submitting my work anywhere. It was my husband who encouraged me to try self-publishing a YA historical novel I’d written about the Fox sisters which I called High Spirits. To my surprise, I was contacted by an independent Hollywood producer for film rights and an editor at Sourcebooks who wanted to put the book under contract, revise it, and republish it with a new title. This became my first traditionally published book, We Hear the Dead, and eventually a 6-minute short film called The Spirit Game was produced, too. (It’s currently being pitched in Hollywood as a TV series idea.)

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I would have looked for an agent sooner. I didn’t start to query agents until after We Hear the Dead came out. I didn’t realize how necessary it was to have an agent for negotiating contracts and looking out for your interests with publishers.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Do your research on the publication process! Read up on agents and publishers and what’s expected for books in your genre/target audience. I wandered into the whole process backward and really didn’t know what I was doing. First I published a book. Then I got a book contract. Then I queried agents and found one. At that point, it felt like I started over again and only really learned the process when my agent sold my next book, The Caged Graves.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

My first middle grade book, The Eighth Day, is special to me. I wrote my YA historicals – including two that have not yet found a home with a publisher – while working full time as a fifth grade teacher. When I started working on The Eighth Day, my students said, “It’s about time you wrote something for us!”

And writing for middle grade turned out to be so rewarding! There’s a lot more fun and humor in these books than in any of my others, even though it’s an action adventure. Plus, I moved out of my established genre (historical) into urban fantasy, which I wasn’t sure I could do. The Eighth Day taught me to take risks with my writing.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favorite character is Riley from The Eighth Day. First of all, he’s a YA character in a MG book, so he links my two target audiences. At the beginning of the book, my main character Jax, hates Riley, his 18-year-old guardian, believing him to be a no-good slacker. But when Jax learns more about Riley’s past, finds out who he is and how far he’ll go to keep the people under his protection safe, everything changes. Developing their brotherly relationship was one of my favorite parts of writing the series.

Furthermore, Riley invented himself. When I started the first draft of The Eighth Day, I had entirely different plans for this character. But he took control of himself from page one. This is who I am, he told me. Oh, and I need tattoos and a motorcycle, thanks.

Based on reader feedback, I have found that while everybody likes my main character Jax, MG readers aspire to be Riley and YA readers swoon over him.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

My newest book is The Inquisitor’s Mark, the second in the Eighth Day series. This one was a lot easier to write than the first one, since I already knew the characters so well. I also had the fun of putting Jax in an impossible situation. What does an orphan want more than family, right? In The Inquisitor’s Mark, Jax finds out that he has an uncle, cousins, and grandparents who want to give him a home. Too bad they’re members of a corrupt clan Jax’s father fled long ago – and they would really like to see Riley dead and Jax’s other friend, Evangeline, as their prisoner.

The scenes where Jax meets his nefarious relatives were really fun to write – plus there’s betrayals, chase scenes, magical vermin, and oh yes, a monster, all set in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan alongside Central Park.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

As you can see, I self-published first, then got one of those offers everyone says never happens: a traditional publisher approached me. Over all, I like working with traditional publishers because they have such a far reach in terms of getting your book into stores. You also have more street cred with librarians. However, traditional publishers are very cautious about acquisitions and if they don’t think your book fits the market, no matter how good it is, they won’t buy it. I might self-publish again in the future, but I would always try the traditional route first, because it gets more respect in the publishing field.

My advice for any writer, before choosing a path, is to thoroughly research all the pros and cons – and believe me, no matter which path you take, there are plenty of both.

 

Dianne SalerniAuthor Bio: DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of The Eighth Day fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Where to find Dianne:    Website        Twitter

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Margo Kelly

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With me today to kick off the new year’s first edition of Behind The Scenes is Margo Kelly. Her debut novel, Who R U Really?, takes us on a scary journey of internet stalking.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

My journey was not a quick or simple one, but I was determined to be published traditionally. In 2009, I decided to pursue this goal. After a lot of writing and revising and querying, and then more writing and revising, my debut novel, Who R U Really?, was published in September 2014. For the entire story, please check out: “How I Got My Agent” on the Writer’s Digest Blog.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

If I had it to do all over again, I would read more books on the craft of writing before querying agents. Some of my favorite books include:
THE FIRE IN FICTION by Donald Maass
SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
THE STORY BOOK by David Baboulene
SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Browne & King

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Revise. Revise. Revise. Finishing the first draft of your manuscript is an awesome accomplishment, but do not stop there. Revise it. Find a fellow writer to critique it. Revise it. Find another person to critique it. And revise again.

 

4.  Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

Who R U Really? is special to me because, years ago, my daughter was nearly abducted by an online predator. After a counseling session one day, my daughter and I played the “what if” game. What if “this” had happened instead of that? What if “this” decision had been made instead of this one? And a novel was born. There are many true scenes in the book along with many fictional ones.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

Thea is the main character from Who R U Really?, and she is a naïve, tender-hearted teenage girl who hungers to be loved by a boy. When things go wrong with the boy she likes at school, she falls for Kit, a guy she meets in an online role-playing game. She ends up lying to her parents and her friends, because she’s convinced she’s in love with Kit, and she’ll do anything for him. Her world falls apart when she learns that Kit is not who she thought he was. Thea has to figure out who she can trust in order to save herself in the end.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

Who R U Really? is a rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills. I hope that you read it in one sitting, and I hope that you reevaluate your online habits after you close the book.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I chose the traditional publishing route, because it felt like the right choice for me. I wanted the editorial input of a talented agent, and I wanted the business expertise of a publishing house. My advice for writers working toward being published via the traditional route is to make sure your manuscript is as polished as possible before querying agents. Then when you receive feedback from agents or editors, consider their advice carefully and improve your manuscript based on the feedback you’ve received.

 

It’s a great pleasure to have you over in my blog. Thank you!

Thank you for hosting me on your site today!

 

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Author Bio: Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Where to find Margo:     Blog     Twitter

 

 

Would you like to be featured in Behind The Scenes? I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

You can also find me on Twitter:


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Ten Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Writing – Guest Post by Elsie Elmore + Giveaway

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I’m happy to hand over my blog today to Elsie Elmore, who is celebrating the release of her debut novel, The Undead: Playing for Keeps, with two giveaways!

Rafflecopter Giveaway         Goodreads Giveaway

*        *        *        *        *

I was thrilled to be asked to do a guest post on Just Get it Written. Caffe Maggieato has a great blog that hosts awesome interviews and provides great tips for writers. (There’s even a Linky Tool for the Celebrate the Small Things weekly post if you want to join.)

Photo Credit: Flickr by Angie Torres

 Ten Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Writing

  1. I’m not alone…per se. There are a lot of writers out there facing the same struggles, doubts, and milestones. Reach out and find camaraderie.

  2. Practice and time will improve your skills. Read, write, and repeat.

  3. Creating your cover with a graphic artist is mind blowing at times. Colors, fonts, perspectives, all have to be factored in. It’s a far more complex task that I initially thought.

  4. Self-doubt is a demon that knows no bounds… but that demon can be tamed by keeping it in check. Believe in yourself.

  5. We’re all a Work-in -progress. (I wrote a post about this.) It’s important to cut yourself a break sometimes and step back to see your growth.

  6. Writing scenes in different perspectives is helpful. Changing POV gives you insight into a characters mind or what’s happening externally. Writing in different perspectives is also great practice.

  7. Critique partners are very important. And they are definitely partners, so be kind, choose well, and reciprocate with the same energy and effort they offer you.

  8. Writing is easier some days than others. If I’m stressed over something personal, I cut myself some slack and work on different aspects of writing so I can let myself settle.

  9. Staying organized will help you manage your time better. Scrivener has been the best tool I’ve discovered since I started writing. This program allows you to plan, rearrange, create character sketches, and more.

  10. Everyone has their own set of goals and their own definition of success. I just need to focus on mine.

The Undead CoverGenre: YA Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 3, 2014

Where to Buy:

Amazon      Amazon UK      B&N

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads

 

ElsieElmoreElsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.

Where to find Elsie:    Website     Faceboook     Twitter     Goodreads

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with C. Lee McKenzie

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Today in Behind The Scenes, I am very happy to get a chance to interview YA author C. Lee McKenzie. Her latest novel, Double Negative is now available. If you haven’t yet, it’s not too late to join her giveaway!

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I’d have to say I got started through a series of well-planned accidents.

I read an article about teens who cut themselves, and it nagged at me for several months. How could young people have to self-inflict pain in order to feel something—in order to have some control over their lives? I knew I had to write something about my reaction to the story, but I didn’t have any idea it would be a novel. Then one day it was. Then the next thing I knew someone wanted to publish it, and in 2009 Sliding on the Edge came out. From then on I was on the train, and I kept writing and subbing until I wore down publishers. I now have three young adult books out.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Does take up coal mining count? Just kidding. But I often wonder if it wouldn’t have been an easier way to spend my time.

Seriously, I think I would have researched more about what I’d be up against, but if I had, I might not have continued. There’s so much to know and so much to do that’s not related to creating stories, and creating stories is what I really (naively) thought I’d be doing all the time.

Next I would have learned more about how to market books. That has been a huge learning curve for me. I would have built my social media network before I started publishing, but it seemed crazy to do that at the time. I didn’t know if I was going to be published.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Don’t stop trying to be better. I strongly advise reading widely, reading a lot, talking to and sharing writing with other writers, and going to workshops given by talented, experienced people in all phases of this industry.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

Sliding on the Edge will always be special because it was my debut book. I formed a deep bond with each of the characters. Shawna, the lost and lonely girl on her way to destruction, will always tug at me. Kay, the grandmother with most of her life behind and so many regrets is still vivid in my mind. Kenny, the mysterious old vet with pain in his heart for something he’d done and must live with was another special character. I’d love to hear more of his stories. I know he has many of them and that some would be difficult to hear, but like all people with shrouded pasts he fascinates me.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

Shawna and Kay from Sliding on the Edge, of course. They’re so damaged and so in need of each other. From their first meeting, I wanted to let them discover how much alike they were and how, once they let down their barriers, they’d each be okay. It was hard not to let that happen right away, but then I would have had a very short book.

Then I really like Juan Pacheco from The Princess of Las Pulgas. I think I had a crush on Juan while I wrote his story. He’s so self-assured and straight forward, not to mention handsome. I kept thinking what a wonderful boyfriend or husband he would be.

In Double Negative, I’m really fond of Maggie and Fat Nyla. They have wit, and they’re smart. They move ahead with their lives in spite of all the roadblocks I keep hurling at them. Hutch also has a huge hold on my heart. While I was writing his story, I kept asking myself, “What would my life be like if I could barely read?” “Horrible” was the answer.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

Here’s the tag line:
Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is shackled by near illiteracy and trapped in a dysfunctional family. When he tries to escape, he chooses the wrong way and lands in juvenile hall. He might have another chance at the freedom he craves if he listens to the priest and the teacher.

In spite of some of the darker themes, I think readers will come away feeling positive about all of the kids in this story, especially the ones who have the hardest journeys.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

My young adult books are traditionally published. I went Indie with my middle grade, Alligators Overhead. I decided to test the self-publishing route with this one to see 1) if I could do it 2) if I liked it.
The answer to each question is yes.

Here’s my best shot at giving others advice:

*Test out different routes to publication. Decide what you think will be best for you as a writer.
*The publishing industry is fast changing and opportunities for writers are opening up more each day.
*If you go traditional, be ready for a hard road and stick to your guns.
*Rejection of your work is not rejection of you, and you have to tell yourself that.
*If you go Indie, be ready for a hard road and stick to your guns. (Does this look familiar?)
*If you give up you can guarantee failure. Otherwise, you stand a chance of publishing and selling books.

 

It’s a great pleasure to host you in my blog. Thank you!

Thank you. Great questions you asked today.

 

Author Bio: C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can.

She takes on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead, came out.

 

I am always on the lookout for authors to interview for Behind The Scenes. Anyone interested? Please let me know!


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Double Negative: Celebrate With Lee + Giveaway

Today, we celebrate the release of C. Lee McKenzie’s new contemporary YA novel, Double Negative. Congratulations, Lee!

double-negative2-1 Title: Double Negative
Author: C. Lee McKenzie
Genre: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Category: Young Adult
Available: July 25 from Evernight Teen

 

Logline:

Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is a smart kid who can barely read. He makes one bad choice after another, trying to find a way to escape his rotten life at home and at school. Each time he gets into more trouble.

 

Summary:

Hutchison Mc Queen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read. And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

Buy Double Negative

Where to find Lee:

Website Blog Facebook Fan Page

 

Author Bio:

C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can.

She takes on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead, came out.

 

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Runs from July 21 to August 22

 

 

Celebrate The Small Things is a weekly blog hop wherein we post our celebrations each Friday, big and small. Thanks to our host VikLit for this wonderful meme and my fellow co-hosts Diana Wilder, LG Keltner@Writing Off the Edge, and Katie@TheCyborg Mom for their hard work!


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Cover Reveal – The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

The Undead Cover

THE UNDEAD: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson (gothicfate.com)

Release Date: September 3, 2014

Blurb

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Lyla
My stomach drops when I see the dead woman lying on the table. Convinced the dim light is playing tricks on my eyes, I reach over and flip the switch. The overhead fluorescents flicker on and light cascades down onto the body. Dread replaces the doubt. I move closer for a better look. She’s not peaceful like the others. This is bad, really bad. Mom will go ballistic when she sees this.

“Lyla, what are you doing back here?” Ben whispers and gives me a playful shove.

I flinch, almost coming out of my skin. Ben’s always been better at the scaring game we started a long time ago. While I both love and hate our game, I also suck at it.

I turn and squint at him. “Asshole. This room should be off limits.”

“Language,” he chides and clicks his tongue. After glancing at the body, he steps up beside me and snickers. “You’re in so much trouble,” he says, drawing out each word as if it were a paragraph.

“No, I’m not.”

“Where’s Kate?”

“She’s gone, I guess.”

Kate Huntington, the eccentric beautician with tacky green highlights is gone, and only her handiwork remains. Glittery blue eye shadow and sapphire eyeliner cover the dead woman’s lids. Black mascara coats her lashes so thickly that her eye sockets resemble piles of tangled spider legs. She looks like a showgirl, an old, dead showgirl. I don’t even want to acknowledge the dark foundation, the cherry red lipstick, or the words “I quit” scrawled in eyeliner across her forehead.

“Mom and Dad are going to freak when they find out she left this. Mrs. Weller’s visitation is tonight.”

“Wait.” Ben’s interest shifts and he takes a closer look at the still body. “This is Mrs. Weller?”

“Yeah.”

“Leave her. Nobody will come see her anyway.” His nose wrinkles at the lifeless form. “Everybody hated her.”

“You hated her. I don’t think everyone else did.”

“She was horrible.”

“You’re still holding a grudge? You were in seventh grade when she busted you for taking off during the Chamber of Commerce field trip. Let it go.”

I lean closer to Mrs. Weller’s face. She looks like a sweet old lady, if you ignore what Kate did, but Ben always hated her. Then again, Ben dislikes most of his teachers. They all want him to work harder to meet his potential. Ben has other plans for his potential.

“Whatever. You wouldn’t know. Your nose stays stuck so far up their—”

I elbow him in the ribs. “Grab me a wet washrag. I’ve got to fix this.”

“No. I’m not touching anything in here, her included.”

“I didn’t ask you to touch her. I just asked you to get a washrag. You scared?”

“Disgusted is more like it.”

I huff, walking over to the sink. The room reeks of disinfectant, but it’s better than the embalming room smell that clings to everything like cobwebs.

“Are you worried Dad will mistake your help for interest? You know, this place isn’t the enemy.”

“Easy for you to say. He’s not trying to steal your future.” He crosses his arms. Ben’s senior year has been a struggle about his future. He and Dad both want control.

Grimm Funeral Home is now run by the fifth generation of Grimms. Dad worked here part-time as a teenager and returned after college just as his father before him had and so on and so on.

“What are you doing here anyway?” he asks. “Mom and Dad will be pissed if they catch you back here.”

“I came to ask Mom about spending the night at Cassie’s.”

“But Mom’s not in here.”

“I know. But I couldn’t walk by the door without peeking. And this is what I found.”

The water from the faucet splashes around the big white ceramic basin. Every room down the back hallway has too much white: white walls, white counters, and white cabinets. Everything feels sterile, worse than a doctor’s office.

“You’re really going to touch her?” Ben asks, now standing farther away from the table.

“Yep. I am.” I haven’t thought about it enough to freak myself out, unlike Ben. “It’s just a body without a soul, like a table. No big deal. Well, except for the horrendous makeup.”

“I wouldn’t. Mom and Dad are going to rail on you if you screw this up, which you’re going to do.” He sweeps his dark hair off his forehead while he inches backwards. “You don’t wear makeup. How are you going to know how to put it on?”

“I’ll rely on my artistic ability.” I dab Mrs. Weller’s face with the warm rag. “Besides, I do wear makeup.”

“Lyla, stop.” He points at the table. “Aren’t you supposed to be licensed or vaccinated to do this? What if she was sick or something?”

Is that genuine concern in his voice? “I’ll be fine. Besides, it has to get done. Mom’s got too much going on today and Dad doesn’t know the first thing about makeup.”

“Touching her is a bad idea,” he snaps.

 

Add The Undead: Playing for Keeps on your Want To Read list on:

Goodreads

 

ElsieElmoreAuthor Bio

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel. Find her on the web: on twitter at @ElsieWriter, her blog, or on Facebook.